The professional wrestling industry is taxing on any individual who is part of an active in-ring roster. While the outcomes of matches are pre-determined and many of the moves that are executed during contests do no physical harm, these athletes nevertheless put themselves at risk every time that they enter the ring for a match. Wrestlers take bumps on unforgiving ring surfaces and on floors, and years of that type of punishment takes it toll on any body regardless of how in shape a wrestler was during the prime of his career. Time and age catches up with all athletes including pro wrestlers.
Knocks and other injuries that occurred as a result of wrestling are not, of course, the only reason why some individuals involved in the industry age poorly. Some, to steal a phrase that is commonly used by insiders and by fans, “live their gimmicks” in that they embrace a party lifestyle while on the road for hundreds of days every year that they are involved in wrestling. Wrestling was made for over-the-top characters who appear to be larger than life, but those gimmicks are played by real men and real women who are prone to break down because of the harsh lives some of them live.
20. Jeff Hardy
Wrestling fans can feel free to file this one away for the future. Jeff Hardy has lived what could be referred to as a rough existence since he and his brother Matt broke into the main events of World Wrestling Entertainment cards, as the enigmatic superstar has pulled off some ridiculous stunts during his wrestling career. Those noteworthy bumps coupled with Hardy’s publicized lifestyle outside of the ring has led to the former champion being beaten up. He suffered a broken leg when he experienced a motorcycle wreck in 2015, yet another incident that will leave Hardy hurting later on in his life.
19. Shawn Michaels
He was the showstopper, the headliner, the icon and the main event during his best runs in the WWE. Shawn Michaels was also a man who was able to laugh about the fact that he had a noticeable bald spot during his last several years in the company. Michaels was far from fully healthy while in the twilight of his career, so much so that he appeared to struggle even jogging while working at WWE events. Remarkably, the damage that his body went through because of pro wrestling did not prevent Michaels from being capable of stealing the show even for his last ever match.
18. Tully Blanchard
Tully Blanchard was always just one of those guys who were not going to age all that well. Blanchard began showing signs of this during his run with the Four Horsemen, when it was noticeable that he was already balding despite the fact that he was in his late 20s and then his early 30s. Blanchard battled personal problems and substance abuse, problems that the born-again Christian has discussed while making appearances on television shows and Internet videos. Blanchard is only 61 years old as of the posting of this piece, but you would not know it upon seeing him.
17. Arn Anderson
Arn Anderson does not look all that different today than he did when he was “The Enforcer” for legendary pro wrestling stable the Four Horsemen. That he makes this list is more of an issue about Anderson never looking all that young at any point during his days with the National Wrestling Alliance, World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. Double-A resembled a veteran of the business even in his 20s, and you may be surprised to know that he is only 56 years old as of June 2015. Anderson currently works for the WWE.
16. Dan Spivey
Dan Spivey originally wanted to play in the National Football League, and he was admittedly devastated upon learning that dream would never come true. It is likely that wrestling fans will most remember Spivey for playing the character Waylon Mercy in the WWF, one that was based off of the movie Cape Fear. Those who followed Spivey throughout his wrestling career were shocked when an infamous picture of the once large individual surfaced online, as his frame had been affected by years of wear and tear that came from being an active pro wrestler.
Sunny was the first ever modern “Diva” in the history of the WWE, but she has become as known for numerous incidents that occurred outside of the company as she is known as an iconic figure in the wrestling business. Along with weight fluctuation that she has, at times, seemingly been unable to control, Sunny has found herself in trouble with the law time and time again. It was reported in May of 2015 that Sunny was considering becoming a star in adult films, but whether or not that will actually be the case is not yet known as this time.
14. Balls Mahoney
Balls Mahoney was one of the favorites of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling organization during his time with the company. The antics of the “Chair Swinging Freak” would not be accepted in the modern WWE per the current rules of the organization, but Mahoney brought fans in arenas to their feet back in the day when he would smash opponents with chair shots. Some wrestling fans were left shocked upon seeing Mahoney’s physical state when the wrestler appeared for a RF Video “shoot interview,” as the man who was billed to be 250 pounds during his career barely looked like himself.
13. Abdullah the Butcher
He was a revolutionary in the world of hardcore wrestling, but Abdullah the Butcher also serves as an example for anybody looking to break into the wrestling industry. The hope is that any young wrestler who sees videos or pictures of Abdullah these days has one immediate thought: Do not routinely blade your own forehead during matches, or else you are going to end up with scars that are permanent. Blading is, for the most part, no longer seen at WWE events, which is for the best when you consider scarring and also the potential for diseases being spread through blood.
Kamala was a classic heel character during his run in the WWF. “The Ugandan Giant” was known for having his face and portions of his body covered in paint, and he would go around smacking his inflated belly and speaking nonsense during matches as part of the character. He was back in international headlines in November 2014 when it was learned, via Bleacher Report, that he was living life as a double amputee that was caused by diabetes. Wrestling fans can donate money to help Kamala and also leave words of encouragement for the former wrestler via his GoFundMe page.
The days of Chyna being one of the most over characters in all of the wrestling industry seem like they occurred another lifetime ago. Chyna has, during interviews and other avenues, admitted that she had substance abuse issues as a teenager, and her problems with addiction followed her into her adult life. Her venture into the world of adult films led to further speculation that he life may be crumbling apart outside of the wrestling business. Chyna has continued to make news with stories of her time spent in the WWE even in 2015, but she is now largely an afterthought as it pertains to the industry.
10. Bret Hart
The “Hitman” and the “Excellence of Execution” was still capable of putting on wrestling clinics inside of rings in 2002 when he suffered a stroke that forever changed his life. That stroke forced Bret Hart to retire as an active wrestler, and it also physically aged him by many years. Hart even spent time in a wheelchair because of it. While he still has to deal with the lingering effects of that stroke, Hart is relatively healthy even if he does not look like the man of old these days. The former world champion makes appearances on WWE television from time to time.
The Undertaker is a living legend in the wrestling industry, a WWE icon who has been responsible for one of the most successful gimmicks in the history of the company. Age has caught up to him, however, so much so that Undertaker only appears on WWE television anymore during WrestleMania season. Undertaker unintentionally makes international headlines with his physical appearance whenever photographs of the “Deadman” show up on the Internet while he is away from the WWE, and there is some speculation that the phenom may call time on his wrestling career before the end of 2015.
8. Kurt Angle
The Olympic gold medal winner was beaten up even before he became a professional wrestler, suffering a serious neck injury as he was preparing for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Kurt Angle has publicly talked about that injury on numerous occasions, but it did not stop him from starring for both the WWE and TNA Wrestling. Angle dropped weight during his time in TNA, presumably to extend his wrestling career, and it is not known if he would even pass a WWE physical exam these days. The WWE passed on bringing Angle back to the company in 2014.
7. Lex Luger
Once known as the “Total Package” and for having one of the best bodies in all of pro wrestling, Lex Luger is nowadays a shrunken version of the wrestling personality who featured for WCW and the WWE. Overall health is far more important than looks, of course, and all indications are that Luger has gotten his life together after spending multiple stints behind bars. This story could have had a much darker ending years ago, but Luger, who credits his strong Christian beliefs for saving his life, is healthy, and he now works behind the scenes for the WWE.
Edge was working as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in the spring of 2011 when he successfully defended his title against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania. Little did those of us on the outside know what was going on inside of the wrestler’s body. Edge was experiencing symptoms of nueropraxia that WWE fans never saw during his time on television and inside of the ring, and he was forced to retire not long after he defeated Del Rio on the biggest stage in all of pro wrestling. One of the best in the business during his time spent as a main event player, Edge sacrificed his body to entertain wrestling fans.
5. Steve Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin looks great for a former pro wrestler who is 50 years old, but his body betrayed him long ago. Austin experienced a serious neck injury during a match that involved Owen Hart, and he also suffered numerous knee injuries to both of his knees over the years. The man who was the biggest draw in all of North American professional wrestling was forced to retire because of his injuries back in 2003, and he has never returned to the ring as an active wrestler despite his desire to do so and the WWE having ideas for programs that include Austin.
4. Jake Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a beloved figure while working for the WWE in the 1980s and the 1990s. He was on the opposite end of what was probably the most famous King of the Ring contest in history, one that launched the era of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin being the top performer in the industry, but Roberts experienced numerous personal setbacks due to addictions to drugs and alcohol. Roberts has since sought out the help of fellow former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page, and DDP helped Roberts get his life back together en route to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
3. Scott Hall
Scott Hall has spent years battling demons that cut short what was a good wrestling career that could have been so much more during his days in the WWE and WCW. There had been rumors that the WWE was contemplating giving Hall a chance to work for the company via the NXT brand, but those whispers have quieted following an ugly incident that suggests that Hall is still being haunted by that which put a close to his days in mainstream wrestling last decade. Here is hoping that Hall can get the peace that he needs and that he can one day be back with the WWE in one way or another.
2. Ric Flair
Ric Flair was truly the “Nature Boy” for decades while in the wrestling business – he still is to these days at time if certain stories are to be believed – and it shows on the man’s face whenever he appears on WWE television. You do have to give Flair plenty of credit for all that he achieved throughout his legendary career, and that includes his final run in the WWE during which the veteran honestly had no business putting on three- and four-star matches. Has Flair aged terribly? Maybe, but one would be wise to assume that he regrets little about how he lived his life.
1. Hulk Hogan
A leg drop is seemingly a harmless move for the person executing it and for the opponent taking it while lying on the mat. Hulk Hogan is living and walking proof that those who hold that opinion could not be more incorrect on the matter. Hogan is extremely beaten up these days, due in part to dropping the leg via his iconic move literally thousands upon thousands of times during his career. Along with requiring surgery on his knees, Hogan has also undergone numerous other operations. All young wrestlers thinking about adopting the leg drop in honor of Hogan would be wise to consider choosing another move.